Our Creative Team
Kate Allerston: Artistic Director and Academy Principal
Kate trained at The London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and has worked as a professional actor for over 25 years in theatre and TV, and a director & theatre education professional since 2000. Kate was the Artistic Director and founder of award -winning company ‘Dramarama’ (London Business of the Year 2002/3) and also co-produced the nationwide Shakespeare Schools Festival from 2000-5, working with over 400 schools and 100 theatres. Kate was appointed Principal of the LIPA 4:19 academy in Halton in 2009 and is immensely proud of all the Academy and students and her arts ‘family’ have achieved in the past 10 years. After the huge successes of the last three theatre company productions of Les Misérables (2017)and Jesus Christ Superstar (2018) and Oliver! (2019) the company converted to a new name and organisation of A Place for us CIC. Together with her co-artistic director, Chris Bastock, and amazing staff team, she is excited and proud to take the company on its next journey. A Place for Us CIC, takes the legacy & success of the previous 10 years of the former company, developing & offering wider and aspirational opportunities to young people and professionals in the performing arts industries, across Halton & the North West. She is delighted also that A Place for Us CIC are finalists for the 2nd year for the National MDE Excellence in Musical Theatre Awards 2021! Award ceremony at end of March.
Chris Bastock: Artistic and Musical Director
Chris is a graduate of The Birmingham Conservatoire and has had a varied career as a performer and educator. He has performed extensively throughout the UK, Europe and Asia as part of ‘BackBeat Percussion Quartet’, orchestras, brass bands and touring shows. Chris was the Head of the Cheshire East Music Service and oversaw it’s conversion to a charitable trust, successfully becoming the Love Music Trust and the lead organisation for the borough’s Music Education Hub. Between 2015 and 2020 Chris was the Strategic Director for the Halton & Warrington Music Support Service. HWMSS worked with over 90 schools across Halton & Warrington teaching in excess of 4000 pupils each week and leading the borough ensembles. In 2017 Chris formed a partnership with Kate Allerston and the Heath Perform Theatre Company debuting as Musical Director for their acclaimed production of Les Miserables. Since then they have produced several full scale musicals which have achieved great success, leading to the recent formation of A Place For Us CIC to enable their Theatre work to reach a wider audience and achieve greater participation.
Claire Radford: Choreographer and Academy Vice Principal
Claire trained at Middlesex University in London. She then went on to study secondary education at Liverpool John Moore’s University where she earned her PGCE as a teacher of Dance. She is a member of the International Dance Teachers Association (I.D.T.A) and has worked as a choreographer for a variety of theatres and performances in the North West. She is currently a Performing Arts teacher at Cowley International College in St Helens were she delivers classes across three disciplines (Dance, Music and Drama) from year 7 through to sixth form. Claire was Vice Principal at the The Heath Perform/LIPA 4:19 for 10 years working alongside Kate and the team, before it converted to A Place for Us CIC. She loves the enthusiasm and hard work the performing arts students bring to every class and rehearsal and is excited for the future & all the opportunities A Place for Us CIC has on offer!
Chris Brett: Drama and Acting Tutor
Chris has been working as a professional actor in TV theatre and radio since 2005 and has also moved into voiceover for TV and film. Chris starred in BBC sketch show ‘Scallywagga’ and writes and performs his own material as a stand-up comedian. Using his experience, Chris directs youth theatre shows across the North West and has gained widespread notoriety. Having worked with The Heath Perform/LIPA 4:19 for over 7 years and now for the past year under its new name of A Place for Us CIC, he has had the privilege to work with amazingly talented young people who take on any challenge with no question and incredible commitment.
Natalie McCool: Singing Tutor
Natalie McCool is a singer songwriter and guitarist known for her truly innovative and beautiful take on pop music. She released her previous album ‘The Great Unknown’ in 2016, which saw media support from the likes of The Sunday Times, Q and The Line of Best Fit. Her single ‘Cardiac Arrest’ was also playlisted on BBC Radio 1 in the lead up to the release of the album. Natalie is putting the finishing touches to her new album and has released two new singles Devils and Closure - which both achieved great support across national press and radio. Natalie also enjoys working with young people on various music projects in A Place for Us and across the NorthWest, covering everything from singing, songwriting, musical theatre, guitar and music production.
Anna McGarry: Junior Academy Tutor
Anna has a wealth of knowledge and experience in drama and musical theatre, having studied GCSE and A Level drama at college and starred in various productions there. She is a recent graduate from the University of Central Lancashire, who trained in Musical Theatre for three years where she gained a First Class BA Hons Degree. Whilst at UCLan Anna performed in productions such as ‘Just So’ (Ensemble) ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ (Chava) and ‘Into The Woods’ (Lucinda). Anna successfully gained employment at Walt Disney World, Florida during summer 2020 but unfortunately due to Covid was unable to see it through. Anna has a passion for performing and relishes the opportunity to pass this onto her young students at ‘A Place for Us’.
Steven Hines: Assistant Director/Photographer/Documentary Maker
From an early age Steven has been involved in the performing arts. – as a teenager he was a member of the Liverpool Playhouse Youth Theatre and has acted in numerous stage productions. He directed his first main stage play at 19 at Newcastle’s Gulbenkian Theatre and has continued to be involved in theatre both in Liverpool and Newcastle. He has since developed an interest in visual arts and taught media and film for 15 years; this interest culminated in directing 3 feature films, the latest of which was premiered at FACT, Liverpool. Steven has worked on the technical side of recent Heath Perform/LIPA 4:19 productions and has photographed the rehearsal process of this and several other projects. Jesus Christ Superstar marked his first foray back into the assistant director role and Oliver! Since the merge to A Place for Us, Steven has documented the transition and is working on several projects with the company and is excited about the new developments ahead!
Clare Bebb: PR Adviser and Wardrobe Manager
Clare is a mum volunteer and theatre fan, with previous experience on several productions. In real life a communications specialist with over 20 years’ experience, much of it based in the arts and public sectors. Clare was Wardrobe manager our productions of Les Misérables and Jesus Christ Superstar and Oliver under the previous company. She is enjoying combining the roles of PR/comms adviser and wardrobe manager under A Place for Us - multi tasking at it’s best!
Dan Clarkson – Lighting Designer / ETC EOS Programmer / Production Manager
Dan is a Birmingham based Lighting Designer and Production Electrician, specialising in Musical Theatre and enjoys working with the A Place For Us team and enjoys bringing his professional theatrical lighting to A Place For Us Cohorts and teaching and helping the younger team learn the backstage arts. Dan is also a Musical Theatre Sound Engineer and a Production Stage Manager. Dan trained at the University of Derby and has worked across the UK in major theatres and on major UK Tours and is looking forward to continuing his partnership with the A Place For Us family. Outside of Touring and installations Dan can regularly be found at The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham as one of the core Casual Electrics team, usually at Front of House and loves having a chat about what he does – he doesn’t bite! Twitter: @D_C_Production Dan Clarkson Production
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